Watson: Remember to vote in public school funding all-mail election

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Voters in nearly half the school districts in Maricopa County will receive ballots asking them to decide significant local public school funding questions. 

Steve Watson

Those same voters will have already received a publicity pamphlet describing what's on the ballot as well as both "pro" and "con" arguments submitted by the public. You may also have seen street signs or received postcards regarding the election. 

School finance is complicated, but it's important for voters to have the information they need to make an informed choice when they vote. You can also find the pamphlet my office produced for your district at schoolsup.org. 

In this election some districts are asking for voter approval of bonds, where schools borrow to finance infrastructure needs like classrooms and technology. Other districts are asking for continuation of budget overrides --- giving districts permission to go above and beyond state-mandated limits on education spending per student. 

In the case of a bond election, school districts are authorized to issue negotiable bonds for the purpose of acquiring a project or projects. When approved by voters, to pay for these projects, the monies are raised by taxation upon the taxable property within the school district for redemption of the bonds and payment of interest. 

Budget overrides occur when voters in a school district adopt a budget in excess of their revenue control limit for the period of one year, two years or five through seven years. This allows a school district to spend increased funding on operating or capital expenses, depending on the type of override requested. 

All these funding mechanisms require local voter approval, because after all, it's your tax dollars going to fund your local schools. 

Please know that these issues are on your ballot because they are important to your local schools and the education of the children in your community. Public schools are the backbone of our communities and their success depends on everyone's participation. 

I urge all voters in this election to carefully review the materials and to make an informed decision about education funding in their communities. 

As Maricopa County School superintendent, I play a significant role in administering these elections and cannot take sides urging you to vote yes or no. 

I am proud to play my role in providing voters information and a choice about how their taxes are used, and I urge each and every voter to make their preferences known and return their ballot in the pre-paid envelope. 

Steve Watson
Maricopa County school superintendent

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